Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to not go broke playing on-line poker

You consider yourself a good poker player, better than most. But, it seems like you relentlessly go broke. Bad beats seem to consume you. You can't overcome the inevitable sucks-outs that eventually deplete your bankroll. How do you survive?

Typically the problem is bankroll management, and this is coupled with self discipline. Even if you are the best player, you will get bad beats, and gambling too much of your bankroll is a big mistake. What is even worse, many players will gamble an even bigger chunk of their bankroll to recover, play on tilt, and lose the whole thing. That is self discipline that needs corrected. So instead of just preaching about it, I'm going to give you three discreet rules to follow.

Rule 1. Never gamble more than 5% of your entire bankroll. Don't sit down at any table, any game for more than 5%. One exception is if you only have $10 or less. You could stick to penny poker, or just gamble a bit more (10%) until you are lucky enough to reach at least $50. Once you hit $50, lock in this rule.

Rule 2. If you decide to play a no-limit or pot-limit cash game for 5%, leave as soon as you double up your stake. Why is that you say? If you are gambling 5% and you double that to 10% or more, you don't want to open yourself to the opportunity of getting busted for 10% of your bankroll. Leave and start over. If you like playing a monster stack, just play lower limits so that stack is 5% or less of your entire bankroll.

Rule 3. If you enter a large tournament, don't gamble more than 3% of your bankroll. Large tournaments are going to be more difficult to cash, and the payback may not be so much unless you get really deep. If you are entering a rebuy tournament, estimate your rebuy/add-on total into that 3%.

Now, about self discipline. If you end up on a losing streak (and you WILL), you must drop down to lower stakes until you recover. Sometimes that means dropping down two, or even three levels of stakes if the going gets tough. What you have to overcome is the frustration of moving down, and this is just a part of playing poker. You will get bad runs, and temporarily moving down to lower limits is just part of the journey. It is also possible that you are playing limits that you are not yet profitable at. Even so, moving down, then back up when you regain your bankroll is going to keep you alive while you learn those higher limits.

That's it. If you try these three rules, let me know how it goes!

Oh and by the way, these rules apply to live poker too. Keep yourself a bankroll set aside just for poker. The vast majority of poker players just take whatever money they have. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. They really have no concept of how much they win or lose overall. But with a bankroll set aside, all of a sudden you are faced with the realization of whether or not you actually win or lose playing poker. Good for you! If you can't keep that bankroll alive without a constant feed from the paycheck, you might want to try these rules :)